Monday 10 April – Addressing the race taboo: Colour Brave, Dame Linda Dobbs

Becoming “Colour Brave” with Dame Linda Dobbs

NOTICED is proud to have hosted a well-attended and the first of its kind event with Dame Linda Dobbs – on being, and becoming, Colour Brave.

The event was attended by over 100 people from the legal industry including judges, in-house corporate counsel, lawyers and business services professional from over 15 law firms, legal press, the Law Society and the Bar Council. It was held at Baker McKenzie’s London office and was opened by Sunny Mann, NOTICED steering committee member and Partner at Baker McKenzie, who highlighted the importance of “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable“.

Sid Shukla, NOTICED’s co-chair and a corporate/M&A lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills, then introduced Dame Dobbs, who had hit headlines in 2004 as the first non-white judge to be appointed to the High Court in the UK. Sid went on to explain the concept of Colour Brave – it is all about challenging the norm and it is OK to talk about race.

Dame Dobbs gave an insightful perspective based on her many years of experience at the bar and in the judiciary, and drew on anecdotal experiences of the prejudices she faced as well as her realisation of unconscious biases she, herself, possessed. She also drew on the key themes arising from the McGregor-Smith review which sparked a lively debate on the practical steps we can all take to address the race taboo and become “Colour Brave”.

The key takeaway points were:

  • We all should feel comfortable in talking about race
  • We should not be afraid to promote diversity within our respective organisations (research shows that a diverse workforce is commercially beneficial to companies)
  • Companies will often see a strong business case for promoting a multicultural workforce at all levels of the organisation

Dame Dobbs address was followed by a Q&A with Dame Dobbs, Sunny and Sid, which generated an excellent discussion revolving around – practical steps that need to be taken to help promote diversity in the legal sector, regardless of one’s position held in an organisation.

Sid highlighted the importance of “informal mentoring” and how it can effective for individuals coming from diverse backgrounds, as it happened in his case. A networking reception followed, which gave attendees the opportunity to take part in engaging discussions with each other, Dame Dobbs, Sunny, Sid and other members of the NOTICED steering committee.

Divya Selvaraj, NOTICED’s Co-Chair, commented, “It was a great networking event and facilitated the sharing of interesting ideas among those in the legal profession from different backgrounds and at different career levels”.

Events original details.

It is OK to talk about race. Celebrating the differences between people is what makes the most successful companies succeed.The McGregor-Smith review

NOTICED, the legal sector inter-firm diversity network, invites you to join us for an evening event and reception exploring the Colour Brave notion. Our speakers will address the taboo around race and ethnicity in the workplace, exploring the need for businesses to become comfortable in talking about race; becoming Colour Brave.

We are delighted to be joined by Dame Linda Dobbs. As the first black female high court judge in the UK, Dobbs faced both racism and sexism at the bar during her career.

Dobbs’ commitment to diversity has seen her support many aspiring lawyers from diverse backgrounds. She has been nominated as one of Britain’s 10 most powerful black women and one of the 100 Great Black Britons.

We believe race and ethnicity should be a priority for everyone. To encourage greater dialogue and support around race and multiculturalism within firms, we ask you all to extend this invitation to a colleague with influence, who will join you at this event.


Baker McKenzie
100 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6JA


Monday 10 April, 18:00 – 21:00

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